Government Set to Increase NDIA Staff Cap
28 August 2018 at 4:23 pm
The federal government is increasing the National Disability Insurance Agency’s staff cap, as part of a suite of workforce changes designed to deliver a “better experience” for people with disability.
The now-former social services minister, Dan Tehan, announced the changes on Friday, promising to hire an additional 750 staff over the next 12 months and provide targeted training of 6,000 planners and frontline staff.
The NDIA’s staff cap will be increased to 3,138 in 2018-19 and 3,230 in 2019-20, while a further increase in 2020-21 will bring the ongoing cap to 3,400.
Labor meanwhile, promised earlier this month to remove the NDIA staff cap altogether if elected.
The government will also introduce amendments to the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act, allowing for an increase in the number of staff able to make access decisions and approve plans.
In a statement, Tehan said: “NDIS participants will progressively have face-to-face planning meetings that deliver easier to understand, accessible plans, supported by a consistent, single point of contact.
“Significant improvements are occurring to ensure information is clear and easy to understand to assist people with disability, their families and carers navigate the NDIS.
“The reforms are being introduced after a successful trial with 1,000 participants. The NDIA has listened to feedback, with a focus on getting the planning experience right.”
People with Disability Australia (PWDA) said in a statement on their Facebook page that the changes were a positive step forward.
“We have been calling for an increase in staffing, particularly in the crucially important area of planning, for several years. This increase of 750 staff will go a long way towards improving the quality of service from the NDIA and reducing delays,” the statement said.
“Delays to plans are hurting people with disability, so we are pleased to see that there will be more staff who are able to approve plans and get essential disability supports in place for people.
“People with disability have also told us that they want a consistent point of contact with the NDIS, so we welcome this commitment. We want NDIA staff to know more about the issues that we face and are pleased to see the announcement about training.”
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The NDIA will continue working with Mental Health Australia to implement a psychosocial disability service stream, to “better address the needs of participants with psychosocial disability”.
This comes amid fears people with psychosocial disability would be left without appropriate mental health support under the NDIS.
Other changes announced include the implementation of a complex support needs pathway to improve access for people with complex needs.
Disability Advocacy Network Australia CEO Mary Mallett, said the new NDIS participant pathway would progressively improve the on-the-ground experience for those in the scheme.
“As the pilot is designed, people will be able to contact the NDIS, find out if they are eligible and be assisted to develop their NDIS plan, in a seamless way,” Mallett said.
“We are very pleased that the NDIA has listened to people, understood what their concerns were and worked hard to develop a better process for people’s’ interaction with this new scheme.”
Since these changes were announced on Friday, Paul Fletcher and Sarah Henderson have replaced Dan Tehan and Jane Prentice as social services ministers in Scott Morrison’s new cabinet.
In wake of this, the co-CEO of PWDA Matthew Bowden, told Pro Bono News: “We strongly hope that ministers Fletcher and Henderson continue these reforms, in consultation with people with disability.”
The changes are slated to be rolled out from October.